Regional, rural and urban development

Rethinking Regional Development Policy-making

In series:OECD Multi-level Governance Studiesview more titles

Published on April 06, 2018

This report takes stock of discussions held between academics and country practitioners during a series of seminars organised in 2017 by the OECD and the European Commission that focused on opportunities to improve the design and delivery of regional development policies. What can governments do to enhance economic development in regions and cities ? What lessons can be drawn from theory and practice to ensure public spending and investments contribute to regional development as effectively as possible ? At a time of increasing pressure on public finances it is paramount to enhance the effectiveness of regional policy governance instruments to add value to public spending and investment.Bringing together frontier economic theory and country practices regarding performance frameworks, financial instruments, policy conditionalities, contractual arrangements and behavioural insights in regional policy, this report identifies cross-cutting lessons to help policy-makers manage common trade-offs when designing public expenditure and investment programmes for the development of regions and cities.


Executive summary
Designing better economic development policies for regions and cities: Lessons from theory and practice
Using financial instruments for regional development policies
Contracts to manage the stability vs. flexibility trade-off in regional development policies
Conditionalities for effective public investment in regional development policies
Performance frameworks for regional development policies
Behavioural insights and organisational behaviour in regional development policies
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Launch event

 19 March 2018 Brussels

The OECD and the European Commission Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy launched the report “Rethinking Regional Development Policy-making” on 19 March 2018 in Brussels. The launch event provided the opportunity to discuss the recommendations of the report with representatives of the EU institutions, experts from Member States and other OECD countries and academics. 


EC-OECD Seminar Series on Designing better economic development policies for regions and cities

In 2017, the OECD and the European Union organised a series of seminars at the OECD Headquarters in the context of an EC-OECD project “Designing better economic development policies for regions and cities”.

The outcome of the project supports the design and implementation of policies that are adapted to the relevant territorial scales or geographies, and that focus on the main factors that sustain the competitive advantages of regions and cities. The seminars also support the Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy (DG REGIO) of the European Commission in the preparation of the impact assessment for the post-2020 legislative proposals and to support broader discussion with stakeholders on the future direction of the delivery mechanisms of regional policy

 The final report Rethinking Regional Development Policy-making takes stock of discussions between academics and practitioners during these seminars.

23 January 2017: Seminar on “Multi-level governance for regional economic development”

Canadian Regional Development Policy


Contract as reference points: A new approach to contracting and implications for relationshups among levels of government


31 March 2017: Seminar on "Performance indicators"

Challenges for goal-based learning in public investments: a behavioural experience on performance indicators


Incentivising performance in public investment policies delivered at national and subnational levels 


28 April 2017: Seminar on “Conditionalities for More Effective Public Investment”

The European Union’s experiences with policy conditionalities


Conditionality in practice: Emerging lessons for public investment


Development assistance and conditionality: Challenges in design and options for more effective assistance


10 May 2017: Seminar on “Behavioural insights and organisational behaviour”

Applying Behavioural Insights to Organisations: Theoretical Underpinnings


Applying Behavioural Insights to Organisations: Global Case Studies


28 June 2017: Seminar on ‘When to use financial instruments”

Financial Instruments in Practice: Uptake and Limitations


 The theory and practice for SMEs



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Multi-level Governance, Public Investment and Subnational Finance